Concern at fall in gate receipts

Brendan Furlong

Published 15/12/2015 | 00:00

Wexford G.A.A's finances show a working surplus of some €112,000, but the alarming drop off in gate receipts should set minds racing for discussion at this week's annual county Convention in the Riverside Park Hotel, Enniscorthy, at 7 p.m. sharp.

Club delegates will be informed that gate receipts for 2015 came in at €358,071 compared to €412,650 for the previous year, a massive drop of €54,579.

There is no doubt that the 'red lights' are still flashing in terms of the Board's finances as they still have some way to go before the county is debt free and boasting a healthy working capital in the bank.

Wexford had a serious return from commercial income and sponsorship through Club Wexford, but the drop in footfall at games is a cause for serious concern.

The returns from the two major finals, Senior football and hurling, were hugely disappointing given the charge of €20, with a €5 concession for old age pensioners and students.

The Senior football final involving St. James' and St. Martin's, which also had the Intermediate hurling final as curtain-raiser brought in a gate of €24,323 which, allowing for concessions, would see little over 1,500 paying customers, a figure that surely must be sending alarm bells ringing, particularly in relation to the marketing of county finals.

But what is even more staggering is the huge fall-off in the county hurling final attendance. This was another double-header, seeing Oulart-The Ballagh return to the final against St. Martin's, while Davidstown-Courtnacuddy were making a rare final appearance, this time against St. Martin's in Junior 'A' hurling.

The gate came in at a disappointing €32,728, a drop in attendance of more than €2,000 on the previous year.

Again, allowing a figure of some 500 for concessions and students, it would leave a little over 1,700 paying the asking price of €20.

Given the attractiveness of the Glynn-Barntown and Bannow-Ballymitty county Intermediate football final, the return of €4,260 with a €10 charge was again most disappointing despite the game being played on a fine Friday evening under lights in Taghmon, a central venue for these sides.

The fall-off is quite evident right through the championship gate analysis for 2015, with some coming in at just €50, dropping to as low as €40 which would represent a paying return of just eight supporters.

The number of gates coming in at €50 must alarm County Board as it leaves no return once officials expenses are paid, with the games being run at a loss.

One interesting statistic to emerge is that one game involving Wexford District rivals St. Anne's and St. Fintan's in Junior 'A' football in Rathangan showed a deficit of €5 on gate receipts of €50.

Given the serious drop, a marketing programme must now be high on the G.A.A's agenda, and even more particularly another look at the manner in which the respective championships are played off come September and October.

A clear strategy on time allotted to both codes, and also venues for certain attractive fixtures, must now come in for serious discussion, with a proper fixtures plan put in place.

Commercial income shows a figure of €292,755 compared to €297,661 in 2014, which was brought about mainly through a drop in rent received from €69,841 in 2014 to €43,280 this year.

Sponsorship received by Club Wexford came to a total of €60,000.

Not unexpectedly, teams' expenses showed an increase year on year of some €49,000, jumping from €757,262 in 2014 to €806,373 this year, while administration expenses increased from €248,048 in 2014 to €282,587 this year.

Coaching and development increased from €4294,235 in 2014 to this year's total of €354,163. The upkeep and maintenance of grounds increased from €107,889 to €117,199.

The Croke Park grant for the Ferns development was €634,189, with a grant of €75,000 from Leinster Council.

The importance of progress in the National League is also a high priority, with an increased dividend on offer for counties advancing to the knockout stages of both competitions.

The hurling share for 2015 was €43,693 which increased from €33,650 the previous year, but this would have risen by substantially more had they made the semi-final at a minimum.

A drop-off in the return for the footballers will be expected in 2016 now that they are operating out of Division 4.

2015 showed an increase of just over €4,000, with €28,838 compared to €24,766 last year.

However, gates are expected to be low for the 2016 campaign as Wexford set about bouncing back from the basement division at the first attempt.

Their home games will be against Leitrim, London, Wicklow and Carlow.

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